World champ is making waves at Orange Coast

Shahin Baradaran, 25, a kinesiology major, moved to the United States from Iran three years ago to pursue swimming.

From Iran to California, from world championships to state championships, from the pool to the ocean — Shahin  Baradaran just keeps on swimming.

Since he was 6, Baradaran has been swimming.

The sport brought him to the FINA World Championships where he swam for his native Iran twice and it brought him to Orange Coast where he is swimming for the college’s highly regarded swim team.

Now a 25-year-old kinesiology major at OCC, Baradaran, who goes by Sean, wants to win gold and help his team achieve a state championship. And he is no stranger to championships — he swam for Iran twice at the worlds and had the best meet of his life there.

“In 2007 I went to Melbourne, Australia and I got, in the 100 back-stroke, 24th in the world. It was exciting for me,” Baradaran said.

As a child, Baradaran visited California from Iran and knew he would be back so eight years later, he returned.

“I [visited] like 12 years ago so I think it’s the best place to live, it’s like heaven,” Baradaran said.

When not in the pool, Baradaran is studying for his major, though he already received his certificate in sports medicine from Tehran University in Iran. The material is similar, but this time, it is in English.

He came to California knowing only the English for “hi, hello, goodbye and thank you.”

Besides his goals in school and swim, his ultimate goal is just around the corner.

“In six more months I am going to be a citizen,” Baradaran said. “It was my dream, and now, my dream has come up.”

The path to citizenship has been hard and even with that goal around the corner — he is still striving for the cherry on top of his American dream.

“My super goal, it was my dream for the whole time in my life, is to be a lifeguard in Newport Beach or Laguna Beach.

“When I was a kid in Iran, we saw ‘Baywatch,’ the TV show, and it was so exciting for us because it was the only thing from the U.S. that we saw every day,” Baradaran said.

He is going to tryout in Newport and Laguna Beach next month to achieve his dream of becoming a lifeguard.

Although he misses his family, he loves California and enjoys swimming at OCC and can be found grilling beef kebabs now and then.

“We have very good swimmers here. We race together each day and we are very close friends so it’s exciting every day to practice together,” he said.

Catch him in action on Friday at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational.


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